Cause of death?

+2 votes
205 views
in Genealogy Help by Eileen Bradley G2G6 Mach 2 (24.1k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

4 Answers

+2 votes

I think you need a doctor.  Is there a tag for "medical questions"?  (Is there an alphabetical list of tags?)

Meanwhile, here are a couple things to make it easier for viewers to help, the original image, and my guesses by letter:

Sorry I have such a hard time making the images the right size.  Zooming in helps.

by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (320k points)
+5 votes
Might this be an attempt to spell "acute myelitis"? That is an archaic term for spinal disease.

There are online glossaries of archaic medical terms.

Here is one: https://www.thornber.net/medicine/html/medgloss.html

And here is another: http://www.disease.pricklytree.co.uk/#m
by Dave Rutherford G2G6 Mach 6 (67.3k points)
I thought about myelitis, but if that's what it is, that doctor is a pretty horrible speller.

A lot of them were (and still are)! smiley

I think it's acute myelitis too -- the doctor just can't spell. "Acute mileyitis."
I might agree, except the first letter does not look like the Ms used elsewhere.
Liat, even if the "y" is misplaced, there is still a problem with the characters between the "y" and the "t," which look nothing like an "i."
Thanks for the links.  I saw a death report once "softening of the brain", and I was wondering what that meant!
I don't think that the doctor completed the whole document, just this section.If so it doesn't help comparing letters elsewhere.

I think its miley followed by a ligature to an e (bit like he used for the ill formed a followed by c)  so mileye  The last bit has maybe a tis but is really illegible.

 If you look at his signature, this was a doctor in a hurry!
I do not see myelitis in that at all, no matter how hard I screw up my eyes and squint.

I do see an unclosed d and what is more likely tion at the end.
I'm with Melanie on this, and I think the code 118 mentioned below really makes the case.
Yeah .. the code 118 pretty much seals that it was not acute myelitis (which, while severe in many cases, is not (that I know of) a cause of death).

Neurological problems such as acute myelitis may have accompanying problems that may be causes of death, but the nerve issue is unlikely to be the cause in and of itself.
+4 votes
I am pretty certain it is "acute indigestion."  It does not make sense now that someone would die of indigestion but in the past it referred to all kinds of stomach problems.
by Daniel Bly G2G6 Mach 5 (51.9k points)
Acute indigestion can also be a mis-diagnosis for a heart attack .. especially if the person was deceased before the doctor saw them and only had other people describe the symptoms.
So true!
By 1934, I don't believe that doctors were describing heart attacks as "acute indigestion."

After seeing the full record that also includes the doctor's signature and address, I concluded that he had terrible handwriting. It's lucky that the word "Acute" is as legible as it is!

YES! I think Daniel has it... 

If you look on the right side you will see a code.. 118.

Now go to this website and click on the Revision 4 (1929) codes. 

118(1)      Inflammation of the stomach
118(2)      Other diseases of the stomach
Doctors misdiagnose acute indigestion as a heart attack even now, if the person presents only symptoms but the "attack" is past.  The reverse is also true.  The same applies to a panic attack.  These frequently, even in the 21st century, get misdiagnosed as a "mild (or otherwise) heart attack" because the patient presents the same symptoms as a heart attack.

The doctor would need to see the patient during the "attack" to make a correct diagnosis .. and these days we have all kinds of machinery to run tests during an attack that were not around in the earlier half of last century.

If the doctor only saw the patient after they were deceased, or immediately prior to death, it would be so easy in the 1930s to misdiagnose.  This is not casting aspersions on the doctor (whose handwriting is actually better than many) of the day.  He would have worked with what he had.

This article from 2011 talks of a doctor who thought he had heartburn, when it was really heart disease leading to a heart attack. 

I can believe a doctor in the 1930s making the same conclusion .. and we don't know what evidence the doctor had to say "acute indigestion".

This quote is from the 8th December 1928

The term "acute indigestion" is an example of the indefinite and inaccurate medical nomenclature not infrequently appearing in the public print. Sudden collapse with acute abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting may occur with acute coronary obstruction, but the underlying pathologic condition may be masked by the severity and predominance of abdominal symptoms.

+3 votes
Still unsure. I think it does look closer to indigestion but for the two  " i " dots. Usually I can work it out. A Weber County, Utah doctor, who completed many of my close ancestors death certificates had horrible penmanship. The board must have thought so too, because they regularly requested re-do's. Thank you everyone ! I'm off to read the glossaries !
by Eileen Bradley G2G6 Mach 2 (24.1k points)
If it is indigestion, the first "i dot" is actually the cross of a "t."  I have seen many, many examples of writers missing the vertical of the "t" altogether and placing the crosspiece after it and unattached.  In this case, it does look a little more horizontally elongated than the second "i dot."  (Although I admit, his first "t" cross looks different, but even there he has missed connecting it to the vertical.)

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